Tara Festival of Culture & Camel Races


Tara Festival of Culture & Camel Race


Up early, caravan packed and hooked up we took the road less travelled and ended up in the peaceful Queensland Outback town of Tara. Accessed off the Moonie Highway and Warrego Way, Tara is literally is “off the beaten track”. A road trip is always an exciting thing, the time away from the everyday and the banal and perhaps a surprise or two along the way. We watched the city skyline of Brisbane disappear behind us as we entered the city that almost stole Brisbane’s capital status, Ipswich. It is not long and you are passing through the Lockyer Valley, the salad bowl of Queensland, home to top quality local producers that work hard to create unique and exciting products. Situated adjacent to the Lockyer Valley, on the Great Dividing Range, is Toowoomba and where the Southern Queensland Country experience begins where you can slow down, breath deep and enjoy a taste of life in the country. The Toowoomba region has a lot to offer visitors, renowned for its magnificent parks and gardens, scenic views and provider to gourmet food and wine culture. It is a region of unparalleled beauty, offering the contrasts of the seasons; the colours and characters of the countryside; rich heritage and the release from big city pressures to enjoy country pleasures. Or you can take the Toowoomba Bypass which is a 41-kilometre bypass which runs to the north of Toowoomba from the Warrego Highway to the Gore Highway via Charlton, skipping around Toowoomba all together

Continuing along the Warrego, the next stop is Dalby. Dalby is the regional centre of the Western Downs located just over 200 kilometres west of Brisbane. With plenty of local history and culture to experience, from Pioneer Park Museum and a local Heritage Trail to exploring Bunya Mountains National Park, there’s no shortage of things to see and do. From Dalby we headed to Tara via the Moonie Highway, where we passed Lake Broadwater Conservation Park, southwest of Dalby. Only three and a half hours from the city lights of Brisbane, we found ourselves in camel country, aka Tara and home to Tara Festival of Culture & Camel Races. This town of about 2,000 people sure knows how to draw a crowd, with 12,000 festival attendees camping at the showgrounds and racetrack.

We arrived Thursday, due to flooding rain on the weekend and were welcomed at the front gate by volunteers who checked us in, issued our festival wrist bands and directed us to our Camping Zone. Any more rain during the week leading up the Tara Festival of Culture and Camel Races could have spelt disaster, but Mother Nature was forgiving on this occasion. We setup quick and sat and watched the parade of caravans passing and laughed at the half a dozen that got bogged. Seems that the drivers didn’t listen to instructions of engaging 4WD, plus a couple didn’t even know how to engage 4WD. The go-to fashion was boots, flared jeans, flannel shirts and cowboy hats.

Event Day 1, on Saturday morning there was a street parade in which all the children of the community participated. It was Book Week parade with a cultural, international theme. A large number of countries were represented, and the kids were dressed in all sorts of colourful and imaginative costumes, providing a delightful display. The festival gates opened at 5:30pm, with the Carnivale show at Origin Main Stage up first, followed by the fireworks. We missed the fireworks due to making sure Shari (pup) didn’t get spooked. After the fireworks there was live music with Jacques Van Lill .

Stage Day 2, Saturday had the camel racing up first and following up every hour, with yabby racing in between the camel races. Night’s entertainment was the Rooftop Express Show. After runaway success around Australia the Rooftop Show brought the Heroes of the Outback to Tara with some highly refined and visually enchanting stunts, true blue Australian comedy and awe-inspiring horsemanship. Its loveable bush characters and amusing storyline encourages crowd participation and family fun. The Rooftop Show was followed by James Johnston, who has had a career as successful as it is diverse. At 25 James has performed on some of the biggest stages and toured throughout the world sharing his craft. 2009 saw James compete in the Hit show Australian Idol finishing 3rd. After James the Origin Main Stage came alive with The Wolfe Brothers.  Nick and Tom Wolfe, have become renowned over the past few years for their jaw-dropping live shows and steady ascent to Australian country music's upper echelon.

Stage Day 3, was camel racing every hour camel with yabby racing in between.  Rooftop Express Show was inside the racecourse, bogged. All weekend there were Latin dancers and drummers, Caribbean steel band, a Chinese musical duo, a Reggae/ Latin and soul band, Indigenous performers, country musicians, Haka dancers, Polynesian and belly dancers, as well as some buskers.


Things to consider:

Don’t pay for the Bullant Communcations  WIFI – Total waste of money.

You must check out the Woolshed bakery – it’s easy to spot, it’s the building with the old wool press on the roof and inside you’ll find more reminders of Tara’s proud fine wool connections in the shearing themed dining area.

Tara Lagoon is absolutely beautiful at sunset, stroll or cycle it’s riverside walkway, or drop in a line as the sun sets spectacularly across the lagoon. If you’re keen on freshwater fishing, the locals say this is a top spot and there’s budget priced camping too.

Tara and its surrounds are a treat for the senses. For a true insight into the life of our diggers, visit Meandarra ANZAC Memorial Museum. Don’t miss Monty’s Garage Vintage Car Museum for classic 1940s automobiles.

Lace Embrace Boutique

Kim purchased some Tara Camel Races earrings from Lace Embrace Boutique, for a memento of the trip.

The Festival dates for 2024 are 2nd August till the 4th August. We will be attending again and looking forward to spending longer to check out the local towns


Check out our little clip

Tony and Kim acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the Western Downs;

The Barunggam to the west of Dalby, the Iman (Yiman) around the Wandoan area,

the Bigambul around the Tara area, and the Jarowair around the Bunya mountains area.

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